If you have been following the news, it should come as no surprise to learn that debt is high in Australia. With more people owing money, and also having less money to pay back their debts, there’s a good chance that you have some debt of your own. Otherwise, many people are on the other side of the money lending. When dealing with people who owe you money, or those you are in debt to, there are ways to behave. More importantly, there are some types of behaviour that creditors or debt collectors are to avoid.
Debt collectors are not to harass someone who owes them money. This includes physical threats, of course. But it also expands into the realm of contacting someone more than needed, or doing so during odd hours. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010, as well as other laws, actually make this type of behaviour illegal. Even if someone owes you money, it is against the law to harass them in any way.
Debt collectors must avoid any behaviour that would be considered unconscionable. That basically means that they must act in a fair manner. For example, suppose someone is ill, ignorant of their rights and the laws, has impaired judgement or abilities to discuss matters properly, or no experience in this area, and the other party takes advantage of one, or more, of these things. That would be considered unconscientious behaviour, and it is against regulations.
Debt collectors are not allowed to be misleading in their behaviour, or provide false information. This includes saying things that are not true, about anything related to the debt in question. For example, the money lender might tell the debtor that they could lose their home, or be forced to declare themselves bankrupt. Unless true, telling a debtor these types of things is not allowed. In addition, it is against regulations to send letters that appear to be court documents. Dressing up a letter so that it looks like one sent by a court is not allowed, because this is considered misleading or false behaviour.
If someone feels that they have been harassed by a debt collector, they have a few different options. This depends on an individual’s circumstances, of course, and the actions of the lender.
- For issues regarding debts that are related to the repayment of loans, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is the proper organization to contact. They will be able to assist and answer questions, and then help the debtor to take further actions if appropriate.
- People who are having problems with a debt collector, regarding a situation not related to a loan, should contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
- For any other types of debts where there is a problem with improper behaviour, State or Territory Fair Trading should be sought out for answers or assistance.
Just because someone owes another person money, it certainly does not give the lender any right to treat them unfairly, or with malicious intent.